By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com October 23 2012 6:48 PM ET
A Kansas gay man was told that he could no longer play in his church's worship band because of his sexual orientation after six years of playing keyboard for his church.
Chad Garber of Hutchison, Kan., joined the Celebrate Recovery classes held each Tuesday night at the CrossPoint Church as part of his substance abuse recovery. In his struggle with drugs and alcohol, he also tried to pray to rid himself of homosexuality, but he eventually realized it would not work.
In 2007 he joined the six-piece band for Celebrate Recovery and was eventually recruited to become part of the Sunday worship band, in which he played for four years, according to The Kansas City Star.
Last November two church leaders asked him whether he was gay. Though he was not out to many other church members, he later learned that someone complained that he is gay. Senior pastor Andy Addis said he was worried that someone might harm on Graber. He added that gay people could not be church leaders, but that Graber would still be welcomed in the church.
Instead of dealing with curious churchgoers who would ask why he wasn't playing in the band, Graber decided to leave the church. Some members, after learning what happened, left with him.
"I could have easily started abusing again," he said. "My life was at stake, and they didn’t have a clue. Nor did they care."
Graber and his new partner have found a new church, and they are advising newly out Christians to avoid CrossPoint Church. Addis, the minister, counters that he was doing his part to fairly govern his chruch.
"If it was a heterosexual practicing adultery, it wold be the same," Addis said to the Star. "Everyone sins. But the issue is whether you see it's a sin and make changes in a response to what you see in Scripture. The difference with Chad is that he switched from struggling with his sin to embracing it."
But when it comes to discrimination, Graber said he will not tolerate it against himself or others.
"He is talking about the very essence of who I am," Graber said. "That’s like someone saying they love black people but believe in slavery. Or they love women, but they fight to their dying breath to deny them the right to vote. Or they’re with the Nazi Party and work in the Holocaust, but they say they love Jews."